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tv   CNN On The Frontlines  CNN  December 24, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm PST

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to the old and hello to the new. thanks f watching. i'm tom foreman for all of us at $ "360" wishing all of you all of the best and none of the worst in 2012. >> thank you. let's get the hell out of here. that was awful! oh mierks god, is my mike on? what? hello. welcome to our special report "cnn on the frontlines" which is where a reporter wants to be, where it's happening, when it's happening and when it counts. it's ban very busy year for ushs a busy year for the world, a year that mattered for millions. elsewhere millions rose up against dictate oorks watched friends and neighbors die in the
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streets but then tasted freedom. you'll experience all of that in the hour ahead through the eyes and minds of my colleagues of cnn international who were there when it happened right from the start. >> the first rumblings up an uprising in co rye. -- cairo. a revolution has begun. >> what is your message to president mubarak? >> he should leave tonight. >> he'd been their dictator for 30 years. growing crowd of protesters wants him out. but mubarak digs in and the once peaceful protests turn violent. >> this is an unmistakable show of military force. fighter jets flying low over cairo's liberation square, which
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has been a symbol of defines. >> they're saying go! go! >> pro-mubarak forces target unarmed protesters. journalists also come under attack. >> this is just a completely surreal experience. >> i'm being told walk, walk. don't stay. >> i've been hit now like ten times. the egyptian soldiers are doing nothing. >> we'd like to be showing you instead of this picture the strange imagech us sitting on the floor of an undisclosed
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location in dim light, we'd like to be showing you live pictures of what's happening in liberation square right now but we can't do that because our cameras have systematically been taken do you through threats, intimidation, through actual physical attacks. >> 18 days of clashes end with mubarak stepping done from power. just one country away, another liberation begins. >> we were overwhelmed by the welcome here. people were throwing candy inside the car. clapping, shaking our hands, telling us you're welcome, thank
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you for coming here. incredible experience. >> the uprising against gadhafi turns into a seven-month war. they try to force-feed journalists total gadhafi control. this is really what the libyan government wants to get out, this message that in the capital of tripoli, support for gadhafi is strong. support for the government is strong. >> they try to protect libyans. >> this is proving to be a tougher battle than anyone anticipated. should the pro-gadhafi elements be able to push in here, the concern is this could potentially turn into a blood bath. >> we are leaving this area. there's gunfire all around us. we believe that gadhafi's forces are doing a -- a round about movement, so we are rushing out of this area. >> guys? . >> everybody's fine.
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>> we are going as fast as we can. as the fight draws closer to tripoli, the trapped journalists inside the riox hotel. security has been so prevalent around this hotel has all of a sudden decided to leave essentially the government with clash and assault rifles. they have departed the hotel. it's pretty empty in the lobby apart from a few security staff or rather a few hotel staff. it makes it a very, kind of uncertain time. >> tripoli begins to fall and the journalists are free. opposition fighters storm gadhafi's compound. >> these are cars that belong to the gadhafi regime. that is obviously close security -- [ gunfire ] >> i'm going to try not to get hit by any of those rounds.
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>> gadhafi is later found and killed. in 2011, the world also watches a natural disaster unfold on live tv. the most powerful earthquake to hit japan causes a massive tsunami. widespread destruction. this feels like it's the ground. this isn't actually the ground. this is probably ten feet up off where the actual ground is. there's so much debris piled on. there's actually an entire van beneath me. more than 15,000 people are killed. >> when the earthquake happened, students at the elementary evacuated out of the school. they had no idea a tsunami was coming. out of 108 students at the school that day, 77 are either dead or missing. that's 70% of the children at the school. >> the quake causes a nuclear emergency after floodwaters
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damage some the country's largest nuclear reactors. the radiation leak forces the evacuation of 200,000 people. only the animals are left behind. journalists retreat to tokyo. but continue to report. >> it has an alarm. if you suddenly find yourself in an area where there's too much radiation, it will alarm. >> nuclear concerns linger today as the country continues to rebuild. another story where journalists watched history as it happened. the different seismic events, some begin when the earth shakes, others when people simply won't be moved. most amazingly, early on in egypt, the largest population in the arab world. we asked reporters to tell us what they remember most about covering the stories. ben wedeman, what he had to say. >> 2011 has been a year of unrelenting news. here in cairo, the biggest news came on the 25th of january when we were told there would be
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another demonstration against hosni mubarak. we attended one at the tahrir square. it was relatively small. we headed back to the office. i started to write a script about that demonstration, then i got a phone call there was tear gas being fired in tahrir square. we jumped in a taxi, started to go there. we went over or rather under what is known as the six october bridge. by chance, i look behind me and i saw thousands and thousands of students coming down the bridge shouting down, down with the regime and heading to tahrir square. when i saw that, i realized, this regime is going down. >> ben wedeman joins me now, look with arwa damon, hala gorani and nic robertson. >> what was it about what was happening on that bridge that made you realize, this is really
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it. >> it was the sheer number of people. i have seen demonstrations against mubarak and others. it was a handful, maybe 100 or 200. we are taking thousands and thousands of people. what became apparent that day, the regime was outnumbered by the people. that realization spread so quickly, three days later, the regime gave up and handed over the country to the army. >> people died on the bridge. you were beat up, pushed around a little on that bridge, weren't you? >> that was on the 28th. in cairo, you get shoved around quite a lot by the security forces. >> you'll have to be more specific on which day it was. >> which day? >> yeah. yeah, on the 28th, we were filming and this was clearly the day when it was all going to come down and sort of with finality. we were with tommy evans and mary rogers. we were surrounded by plain clothed policemen and hired thugs. they looked like they were under
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the influence of narcotics. they were insisting on taking away the camera. i said no. we had great footage of incredible scenes and what ensued was a very long pushing and shoving match. they cracked the camera, the view finder right off and took it away. i went back to argue with the superior officer -- >> you are fluent in arabic? >> yes. i was using words that i wouldn't in this company. i argued with the guy for quite some time. but we lost. we lost our camera, lost the footage. got a bit roughed up but it got me going. i was angry. >> i remember that. i got there days later. for all of us, for me that was the most remarkable reporting experience to witness it, to be there. what about for you guys? i mean, you, ivan, were trapped
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in tahrir square in a rundown hotel during the worst of the violence. we were worried about you. we were on the other side. >> that was the famous day of the battle of the camel where we all saw scenes we thought we would never see before. the rock fight breaks out. you got attacked that day. we were getting pushed and shoved around. >> we were caught, my cameraman joe duran and i, were caught in the middle of this horrendous rock fight between two sides and basically ran, did a commando run. our hotel, the door was chained shut. we managed to squeeze in, got to the roof and suddenly these camels started charging into the square and beating up the demonstrators and the riders were ripped off. we were stuck in that hotel in tahrir square as it was encircled by the thugs and we didn't know if we would get out that night. >> the fear was that they would come into the hotel.
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there was nothing to stop them if they had that area. >> we didn't think they could hold out against the regime and they did, for days. they won in the end. >> what i find fascinating, this battle of the camels was seen from so many perspectives. you were up top. i was there when the camels came in. i was trying to badly take blackberry pictures. it just -- it just symbolized the historical nature of what was happening. all of a sudden, this epic, bizarre camel charge in tahrir square. and we were all seeing it. >> that was the moment when many egyptians realized the regime was bankrupt, had no idea how to deal with it other than to pay a bunch of camel drivers to put down the revolt. >> when you resort to the camel drivers, it's over at that point. it was interesting because of technology and because of the resources, frankly, of cnn, you are able to be in the midst of stories in a way and broadcast live during them in a way we
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have never been able to do before. we saw that whether you in tahrir square live. i remember being in the balcony with you in the area where the thugs were. we didn't know if it was the laser sight of a rifle or what was going on. >> we were surrounded. you could not leave without getting beaten up. we nicknamed it the beat journalist. so many were getting smacked around. there was something so raw and visceral about those who were pro-mubarak and hating us. >> we want to continue the conversation about egypt when we come back and what's happening in egypt right now. we'll also look at what happens after a dictator falls, struggles with the military and now elections.
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>> this year, tahrir square has been the scene of incredible drama. the sensational images of the famous battle of the camel, people fighting each other with clubs and sticks, making weapons and shields out of the most basic tools. but, it has also become a symbol, tahrir square behind me of a struggle for freedom, a struggle for dignity in the arab world. first in january and february as egyptians gathered and said no to the dictatorial regime of mubarak. nine, ten months later as they gather again and said no to the ruling military council here. tahrir square has become a symbol of this struggle in the arab world. i predict we'll see more drama as egyptians continue to see this square as a sign and symbol of their struggle for freedom.
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i was able to witness firsthand the birth of something that i thought i would never see in the middle east. protesters demanding accountability from their leaders. i never thought, in the years i spent covering in the middle east and the time i spent going back and forth to the middle east, my family is from syria. i never thought i would see a dictator taken down by the power of street protests. in egypt, it's freer. the press can travel to cairo and report.
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i have come to love that country and the people in egypt, i truly have over the several years i spent reporting there. so, it's almost, i almost -- it's almost like wishing family well when you know a country intimately in a way i have grown to know egypt. >> hala gorani on reporting from egypt. i spent time there, our fellow colleagues had chance to see the chapter. back with hala, arwa and ben. you live in cairo, your family was there. the same time this was all happening, you are concerned about your family and their well-being. >> i was completely split, ripped in two. on one hand, i wanted to cover
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the revolution. my neighborhood was an armed camp. my neighbors put barricades on the roads. they pulled out weapons i didn't know they had. shotguns, machine guns, samurai swords. my 17-year-old son was out with a baseball bat and german shepherd. we live in a nice neighborhood surrounded by slums. next to egypt's largest prison. >> we snuck from the hotel to the bureau for a better satellite feed. moments before we went on the air, security saw people coming from the back alley. the bureau is open. anybody can get into the building. that's when we decided to turn off all the lights, get down on the floor. the security guy suddenly jammed the couch in front of the door. and i was like that's our high-tech security? are you kidding me? jammed the couch in front of the door. we went ahead with the broadcast on the floor. that, for me, was one of the most intense moments. >> surreal. >> absolutely surreal.
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did you ever expect to be seeing the things you are now seeing? never. >> absolutely not. not across all of africa. i think this is only the beginning. we are looking forward to next year. the revolutions happened. we know what happens after revolutions, convulsions and contortions. several governments may come over the next few years. syria is an event, in a way that we are waiting to happen. >> syria is going to have a huge effect. >> to be watching the middle east completely and utterly change, who would imagine that sitting here. >> you recently came out with a report, they believe there's a civil war there. you were there. i want to show you what arwa had to say about her experience there. >> i was hiding in the back of a white van with two activists who were terrified. i never met them my entire life. they took me through the damascus suburbs to link up with a young doctor, who had set up a
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secret underground clinic, part of a network of doctors trying to save wounded demonstrators lives. they were taking an incredible risk because they wanted us to see some of their patients. people with gunshot wounds who wouldn't go to the hospital. a young boy, a teenager, the doctor didn't have the medical equipment to understand the scope of his injuries. they said the little boy was partially paralyzed from the waist down. the doctor was a young man. he said it was so difficult for him to have people die in his hands because he quite simply couldn't save them. >> they have been saying ambassadors are here, journalists are free to travel. what was your experience? >> you are free to travel as long as you take a government minder with you. he's not a minder.
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he's there to help you out. >> there's an element they might want to do you harm. we are not keeping you from traveling around the country because we want to hide things from you. we are keeping you from that traveling around the country because we want to protect you. >> it was better to be there with those restrictions than not to be there at all. we were able, in the end, to get the stories, get away from our minders. >> the street whispers to you and talks to you. >> what do you mean the street whispers to you. >> people will come up to you and they'll slide paper into your hands. >> in this age of twitter and facebook, the most old-fashioned way of communicated is how i got the best contact in syria, who i am still in contact with a man with a fake e-mail account.
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he said they are lying to you, e-mail me. it was amazing how they get around the controls. >> when you think about the risk they are taking, i mean they could die so easily or be tortured. things we can't imagine. we hear the stories coming out of syria, they are terrifying. they are taking this risk all the time. we are surrounded by government minders and they are saying they are lying. >> do you get used to seeing the bravery of people coming forward? do you get used to seeing killed in the streets for speaking out? >> no. never. >> the bravery we have seen, it makes you want to weep to see them that come out, they are at a funeral of their friend who was killed, then the security forces start shooting at the funeral procession and they still keep chanting, you know, democracy or down with the regime when fired on that way. >> now, on my show, i talk to people in syria on the phone who insist on using their real name. they insist on it because
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they're no longer afraid and they want the government to know they are not afraid. >> that's the biggest unifying factor. people saying we lost our fear. it started there and rolled across. when people say they lost their fear, that's where government should worry. >> much more ahead with our correspondents. libya 2011 brought incredible change there. forces took on moammar gadhafi. ultimately won with the help of nato. david and goliath story, if ever there was one. matthew chance became a prisoner in his hotel. >> we've been living in fear for five days. we are being held against our will by tease crazy gunmen. >> the disaster that left 15,000 dead in japan. a monster tsunami. back then, he had something more important to do. he wasn't focused on his future but fortunately, somebody else was.
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the unrest sweeping egypt reached libya. demonstrators took the streets in benghazi. demanding an end to moammar gadhafi's rule. the army met them with force. a blood bath began and wouldn't end for eight more months. they make a major advance throughout the country with the help of nato. we were one of the first reporters there. >> we are going into tripoli at the end of february. we had no idea what to expect. some journalists pulled out.
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some were beaten up driving from the airport to the hotel. an amazing thing happened on the first day there. the government drivers and minders took us where the rebels has control of the city amazingly, the government drivers dropped us off and let us go where we wanted. we walked to where we saw a crowd of people around a tank. we thought this was the government showing us pro-gadhafi reporters. as i climbed on the tank, i realized they were rebels, the government minders delivered us to the rebels. i thought there's going to be a gun battle. we were brought in to film, to witness it. that wasn't the case. the government made a mistake. right after that, they changed. the security kind of took over from the government officials running the press sight. within days, when we left the hotel without minders, we were rounded up sometimes at gunpoint and forcibly taken back to the hotel.
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the first few days we had a tiny bit of freedom until the government clamped down on us. >> nic, what was it like in tripoli in those early days? >> it was the time we had almost all the freedom. intelligence got ahold of the idea we were renegades. we were heading to parts of the city we didn't want to. then they clamped down on us. the access dried up. >> then you were the first western journalist to enter through the east in opposition held territory making your way to benghazi. i will never forget the video is like the allies entering in paris after world war two. >> you know, our first 48 hours in libya was really nerve-racking. everybody would meet and speak
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to was full of this energy that had been pent up, frustration, anger. it was suddenly coming out. they were happy to see you, but they were so excited that finally, they were free. you couldn't have a normal conversation. people were shouting. i thought oh my god, if i stay here much longer, i'll die of a heart attack. it was thrilling in a different way from egypt. >> during the final fall of tripoli, matthew and sara, everybody is riveted to both of you. matthew, you were trapped in the riox hotel. >> pivotal moment was the situation i got myself into or found myself in in the rixos hotel in tripoli. we weren't permitted to go outside except under very controlled circumstances. so you got a very distorted perspective on the entire complex.
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afterwards, it was amazing. i was personally very relieved as were the other journalists held inside the rixos. held inside the rixos. i went outside the hotel. within a few minutes i went to the live location of cnn in tripoli. i was surrounded by crowds of people in the center of tripoli. they were celebrating deliberation of their country and firing guns in the air and giving me flowers. there was this amazing electricity about the place. they were on the verge of a new era in their country and finally free. i felt that as well. i was also free after a period of being incarcerated. it was an amazing moment. >> it's rare, often reporters end up talking about things that have already happened. reporting on things that have already occurred and you're trying to make the story in the past. that was a story that was unfolding and you were trapped in the middle of it. what was that like? >> highly unusual of being in the story yourself. it's remarkable.
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you find a small transformation that took place in the hotel where everybody was so harr lined, and everybody so was pro-colonel gadhafi. they were so loyal to him. over the period of the days as they went by, rebellion and rebels gained ground. this transition took hold. the gunmen inside the hotel started to realize that the world outside the gates of the hotel, their country changed beyond recognition. when they finally made that realization, you know, the whole thing fell apart. they basically abandoned their post. something got killed outside. >> what was that like negotiating with gunmen? it's an experience everybody has had. until you have had it, it's hard to describe. what was it like? >> the negotiations were carried
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out by the producer i was working with because she speaks arabic. they were the end result of days upon days, hours upon hours of just everybody together thinking how we were going to get out of this. that was the big concern. this was going to be the last stand of gadhafi's loyalists in the hotel where we were stuck. we were going to get stuck in that. that was worst case scenario. we were assessing our risk. wondering, deciding what our next step was going to be and then present it in the form of negotiation to the guards. we had no idea, right up until the last minute or two, five minutes, maybe, that this was going to produce results and they finally capitulate and understood that you are holding us captive was a dead-end game for them. when that happened, there was a huge emotional release. they cried, gave us their weapons. we took some of them with us in the evacuation because if we left them there, they'd have been killed.
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>> a lot more about libya ahead. ending 2011 without the man who terrorized them for decades. also ahead, disaster that claimed more than 15,000 lives. raised new questions about the safety of nuclear power plants in earthquake zones. this was the gulf's best tourism season in years. all because so many people came to louisiana... they came to see us in florida... make that alabama... make that mississippi. the best part of the gulf is wherever you choose... and now is a great time to discover it. this year millions of people did. we set all kinds of records. next year we're out to do even better.
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we made it to a neighborhood that was right next to the compound of gadhafi's stronghold. and there was, you know, dozens and dozens of men holding their guns, celebrating, saying, you know, it's close. it's about to be over.
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we are going to take this compound and we are going to kick, you know, the gadhafi regime out of tripoli and we are going to crush the regime that has been so crushing to us and our families for more than 40 years. it was exhilarating. it was one of those days where you are like wow, this is history being made right here and standing right here, august 23rd. tripoli is falling around me. >> sara sidner on the fall of libya's largest city. it exploded in 2011. people compared it to a fever or a wave, a set of giant dominos. it's rippling. sara and the rest of the panel are back. all have seen history made and rewritten as well this year. being there, i mean, was that the most intense experience that you had found yourself in? you were reporting live throughout it all. >> it was. the second most was the mumbai
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attacks outside the taj hotel. there was a barrier, so to speak. there wasn't a barrier here. you were trying to decide minute by minute whether or not you and your crew were safe. whatever that meant in this scenario. and as people started going into this compound, we couldn't see it. we were just next door. we could hear. the moment we saw them open up some of the files and the names on the files, the children of gadhafi, we were like where could they have gotten those. and they were all saying from inside, from inside. we're swimming in the pools. we're swimming in the pools. that was a fascination. everyone was happy to be swimming in the pools. it was like okay, they're in. they seem to be in. it was a scenario where we went forward. finally, we got to the walls, the outside of the compound. they were littered with holes. it looked like armageddon for a second. then the guys were there,
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standing outside. we said, you know, who, who, who? we said cnn. oh, they just let us walk right in. everyone was rushing in and then rushing out. i kept thinking what the hell is going on? what is going on? are people being shot at inside the compound still or are they just excited and kind of going back and forth? and what was going on was people were bringing out guns. telling us the tea is still hot. there are still people in there fighting. there are uniforms. you could see shoes, all sorts of things. people got up and got the hell out of there. >> it is a great moment when you are able to say cnn and they say oh, yes, okay. it's always a nice -- >> it doesn't happen very much. >> sometimes the door is closed. >> that's true. nic, you were in the hotel when she came in screaming she was raped by gadhafi's forces. >> the government officials, the
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minders escorting us to the different places around tripoli suddenly were pulling guns and literally took our camera and intentionally broke it in pieces and threw it on the floor. >> one of the waitresses -- >> threw a bag or sheet over her head and the government thugs took her away. the journalists were trying to stop them from taking her away. >> where are you going with her? >> it was the brutality that the regime said wasn't happening, unfolding in front of our eyes by the guys pretending to be somebody else. >> for you, what is a good day in the field? what makes you say you know what, this is a good day. we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing? >> when you feel like you
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actually do have this fundamental sense of purpose and you are feeling the emotions. i don't think despite the fact we have been covering it we actually understand what it means for the people going through this. what it means for the libyans who have gone through so much not to have that anymore. they go through things we can't imagine. it's our worst nightmares and they are living it. >> we are a window for our audience. as big as we can open that window and show them what's happening, it's a great feeling when you open that window and know you can show some of that story to the world. but what is an amazing feeling is when you feel on this huge story, the world actually cares and it's looking in through that window. then you feel like you have done your job. >> sometimes you feel like you are talking into a wind tunnel, telling the stories and it doesn't have an impact. >> when the world cares and you know they care and they are watching. those are the moments that get me the most.
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you know, i think they were slowed down to reflect on this year. when you reflect on it now, looking at the pictures, reminding us, we were talking about it. it's powerful to watch it. >> it's humbling. >> humbling. >> a lot of people don't realize, we don't see a lot of the reports. when you are overseas and filing this stuff and you have to go to another demonstration, you don't see a lot of this stuff. it was interesting to watch you all watch these pieces. >> we were so much younger at the beginning. >> true. >> we are going to have much more ahead. the other big story of 2011. the tsunami villages turned into rubble. 15,000 lives lost. for the survivors, there's still radiation concerns. we are going to share our insights on the disaster.
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we look at the biggest stories from 2011 from correspondents who covered the stories firsthand. we want to go to the tsunami in japan. no one can forget the 30 foot wave that destroyed the city in minutes. is seems like this played out all along the coast of north japan. here's what caused the most concern, the fukushima daiichi power plant. officials put it on with the 1996 chernobyl disaster. a 9.0 earthquake that hit the island nation. here's cnn's kyung lah.
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>> if there is one story that will always be memorable to me, it's covering the tsunami in japan. not those massive scenes of devastation. when i sat down with a young mother who was going over how many family members she lost and she started counting on her hand and she ran out and she had to keep counting. she lost seven immediate family members. among them, her 8-year-old son. that's when it really struck home to me that this story was not about all the structures that were lost, it was about the lives, the loved ones and the victims who would forever be impacted by it. >> more than 15,000 people were killed in the disaster. kyung lah joins me with the rest of our panel. it was so extraordinary to be there. i had the pleasure of working with you a little bit. to be there not just for an
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earthquake and tsunami, but the radiation fear and disaster that was occurring. what worried you the most. what was the most difficult aspect of reporting this storm? >> you can't see it. unlike the conflicts we have seen around the world, you can't tell if the nuclear radiation is hitting your body. you don't know. so, that was the most alarming thing. we simply didn't know. >> you were 11 weeks pregnant at the time. >> i was pregnant at the time. my 2-year-old was at home with my husband. we had earthquake damage in our apartment. there were a lot of personal things going on. that was a big concern. how close can we get? how much should we push personal safety to get this story, this incredible story which we all want to cover? there was little information coming from the government. >> in fact incorrect information. >> incorrect information. we now know they drug their feet and did not tell the international community all the information they had.
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>> everybody on this platform has covered natural disasters. what is the difference between, i mean emotionally covering a natural disaster and that war? is it different for you all? >> i found one earthquake in india, you are very much, you become the scenes of devastation, you are trying to cover the story. you are so much involved in it. you don't have anywhere to sleep. you are not sure where we are going get electricity from and don't know where your food is going to come from. everything is collapsed. it's all on the ground lying around you. >> and you talk about electricity. i don't think a lot of people, for us, the key when reporting is basically gasoline to run a generator to get electricity to broadcast. then finding a place to sleep, and something to drink. >> you're levelled with the community. you suffer.
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>> one of the big, you know, obstacles of being in a disaster, earthquake or tsunami, the infrastructure is so devastated you are in the same boat as everybody else in the area. >> it's terrifying dealing with radiation disaster. there's no sense of where to go and there's not a lot of expertise to rely on. you find yourself making choices like well, i think this place is okay, but we have no idea. it's the choices civilians are making every minute. >> the japanese are so calm. the biggest difference i see in listening to you talking, we went from a story that was so filled with emotion and picture to a story that was a 180 emotional opposite. the japanese are very quiet. >> the thing that impresses me about all of you, you meet some people in the field, correspondents who swagger around as if they have a hard bitten newsman, they have seen
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it all and done it all and nothing affects them. i think they have no business being in the field. unless you are affected by it, unless you see it viewed as a human being, you don't do as effective of a job telling the story of what human beings are going through. i have seen each of you in the field really be moved and overwhelmed at times by the things you have witnessed. how do you deal with it? how do you come back from that and then go back out again at it? >> it's the worst is the feeling of helplessness, if you are watching a child dying or a family that lost their home, whatever. i mean, you can try to be emp empathetic, you can try to explain their story of the world, but there's little you can do. you can give them a bottle of water, a granola bar, people in worst situations. ultimately -- >> you can feel their suffering, but can't take it away from them. i think that hurts. >> how do you do it time and time again?
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>> i feel beaten up after some of these assignments. this has been, i think for all of us, exhausting. nic made a joke that we all look older than we did a year ago and i think we feel that way. >> do you feel you carry the people you have met with you? >> sometimes. i experienced on several occasions i sit on the plane when you can stop, you are not focusing on working and the next story and you are beginning to disconnect. the tears roll down my face and i can't stop it. i don't want to stop it. that's part of the release. when i go home, i walk in the front door, i have two girls and a lovely wife. i like running. that dissipates it. why do we go out again? ultimately, we believe it makes a difference. >> you have all had those moments? >> i have them after. if you have them during, you can't do your job, you start crumbling.
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it will come a few days later or a few weeks later. if i have seen a youtube video, someone shot in the head, dragged by their friend in syria or somewhere else, i sit there and think, in my mind, i think, god help that country. i hope these people are okay. >> i find it life affirming, i have to say. you see so many dead people, the fragility of life. i want r went -- went on this natural disaster, the tsunami and there's 8,000 bodies on the beach when i arrived. i think it just makes you appreciate your life. that's how i deal with it. you know, i sort of kick back after a terrible story like that and think dear god, that could so easily have been me. it wasn't. i got my life still. >> there's a difference between conflict and the natural disasters. on an emotional level when there's a conflict, there's somebody you can be angry at. there's a guy with a gun hurting innocent people. there's some figure like moammar
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gadhafi, you can blame him for all this. when it's a natural disaster, the finger of god that destroys a city, there's nobody you can blame and it's a strange -- once again, it's the feeling of helplessness and you can't comfort those people. >> i don't know what to say. how many people did i talk to who lost every single member of their family? i talked to so many parents who lost all their children. so, what do you say to them? the only thing we can do as journalists is tell their story. >> you know what maybe keeps you sane is coming back to these places later, or finding the people out of the conflict zone or the danger zone or they have started rebuilding and, you know, they are scarred. but they are intact and moving on with their life. >> at the time it feels terrible. you see their resilience. >> come back a year or two later.
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>> not only are we the first ones there and the last to leave, we are the first to go back and return more often. i have found over the years. i think that's a great credit to the organization. we have to take a quick break. we'll be right back. thank you. hello? test drive's not over yet. [ male announcer ] it's practically yours. [ louder ] hello? but we still need your signature. right now during sign then drive, it's never been easier to get the all-new passat, the 2012 motor trend car of the year, for practically just your signature. that's the power of german engineering. visit vwdealer.com. forty years ago, he wasn't worried about retirement. he'd yet to hear of mutual funds, iras, or annuities. back then, he had something more important to do. he wasn't focused on his future but fortunately, somebody else was.
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